Claude's at Woollahra used to be an 'occasion' restaurant, where the atmosphere was rarified, the ladies dressed up to dine there, and the food was exquisite. Well, times change, and so has Claude's.
For my birthday dinner this year, I chose Claude's because I'd always wanted to go there, and the new menu, with its slight Asian twists sounded interesting. So we donned our best smartish-casual outfits and rocked up to the very discreet, blink-and-you'll-miss-it doorway on Oxford St for our Saturday night delight.
The dark walls, starched white tablecloths and subtle lighting in the downstairs dining room are the perfect environment for dinner a deux, though there was a table of 3 when we were there. The waitstaff are professional and make you feel welcome. On Saturday night, there is an 8-course degustation dinner available ($135 per person, plus matching wines for $85 extra), so we had that (without wine). You are offered sparkling or filtered tap water to drink.
This is what we had:
Amuse bouche: seaweed rolls and crispy things (like prawn chips, but better)
To drink, a Tiger beer
First course: Chicken liver, taro and turmeric with tapioca, on crispbread - beautiful mousse-like chicken liver and pickled vegetables
Bread with homemade butter - this was so good, the rolls were studded with salt crystals and the butter was creamy and perfect.
Sour and fragrant broth - had spiced chicken pieces on spinach, with the tangy broth poured over at the table.
Rock oyster, trumpeter, black fungus relish - the Batemans Bay oysters were served off the shell, on slices of marinated trumpeter (fish). Warning: relish contains evil coriander!
Wrasse and giant octopus - the wrasse was coated in polenta(?) crumbs and beautifully cooked, so moist and flavoursome. Octopus was thinly sliced and very tender.
Broad bean and soy curds with mushroom ketchup - be warned, the 'ketchup' packs a punch with lots of hot spice. Otherwise, this was a refreshing vegetable dish (with wafer-thin beet and mushroom) before the meat main
Blackened beef, pineapple, green garlic - the beef is 'blackened' using squid ink and is served with a super-tender slice of rare-grilled beef. Smooth garlic puree (with garlic cloves) is balanced by sweet caramelly pineapple.
Pear, coconut, tapioca - pear/honey ice cream with shredded coconut
Golden rhubarb - beautiful spongey cake with jam with tuile-like covering and creme anglais.
Birthday cake kindly provided by Claude's - amazing flourless chocolate cake. When cut, it crumbles like a normal cake, but it tastes like chocolate melting on your tongue. How incredible!
Madeleines - dipped in honey syrup
English breakfast tea in silver teapot
It was a lovely meal we had, last night at Claude's. It gave us a chance to dress up a bit and try an institution that has successfully moved with the times (without resorting to foams and molecules and stuff). I'll definitely be back, though hopefully before the next birthday.
Also, Claude's has recently introduced an 'experimental dining concept' on Tuesday nights, cleverly called The Mighty Bouche. New dishes and ideas are going to be showcased, and I'm hoping that chef Chui Lee Luk will lead diners in a rousing rendition of the Bouncy Bouncy song. Sounds like a date!
Claude's is at 10 Oxford Street, Woollahra, NSW
ph: +61 2 9331 2325